• Update: Michael Pineda has Grade I back strain
    By

    11:13pm: The Yankees say Pineda will be out at least 3-4 weeks. I have to think they will be extra careful to make sure he doesn’t somehow hurt his shoulder compensating for the back, so don’t be surprised if he’s out longer than that. See you in June, Big Mike.

    11:00pm: The MRI revealed a Grade I strain of teres major muscle in Pineda’s back, the Yankees announced. It’s the same injury that has kept Clayton Kershaw out all month. Pineda will be re-evaluated by team doctor Dr. Ahmad in New York tomorrow. Sure sounds like a DL trip is forthcoming.

    4:03pm: Michael Pineda felt some stiffness in his right lat during a simulated game in Tampa earlier today and left after one inning, Joe Girardi told reporters. He is heading for an MRI and his next start is in jeopardy. Pineda is eligible to return from his ten-game suspension on Monday. Girardi confirmed David Phelps would remain in the rotation if need be.

    The good news is that the injury doesn’t involve Pineda’s surgically repaired shoulder. Andy Pettitte missed a start with a stiff lat last season and Johnny Cueto missed more than half the season with a lat strain, so this could be nothing or something pretty big. The suspension buys the Yankees some time, which I guess is good, but losing Pineda for any more time beyond that would be a big blow to rotation that is already without Ivan Nova.
    · (82) ·

I guess the good news is that the Yankees didn’t get blown out by the Mariners on Tuesday night. The so-called Bronx Bombers had this “win or get blown out” thing going for a little while. Robinson Cano‘s new team won the series opener 6-3.

(Elsa/Getty)

(Elsa/Getty)

More Offensive Struggles
Did you realize the Yankees came into this game having scored more than four runs just twice in 13 home games? It’s true. They haven’t scored more than four runs at home since the second-to-last game of the Red Sox series, Brian McCann‘s two-homer game. That was eight home games ago. They also scored only eight runs total in the three games against the Angels this past weekend. Easy to forget they were knocking the cover off the ball up in Boston not that long ago. Baseball, man.

The Yankees actually jumped out to a two-run lead early on against the Mariners, getting a Mark Teixeira solo homer in the second and a gift run on a throwing error in the second. Brett Gardner attempted to steal second against the Chris Young-Mike Zunino battery and he did, though Zunino threw the ball into center and Brian Roberts trotted home from third. That play was on the shortstop, Willie Bloomquist. Bad throw but one he has to knock down and keep on the infield.

It was tough to get something going against Young and his 85 mph nothing ball, but the Yankees did push a run across and bring the tying run to the plate in the ninth. Fernando Rodney then struck out both Derek Jeter and Carlos Beltran, so that was that. Teases. The bottom four hitters in the lineup went a combined 5-for-13 (.385) with three walks, so they were doing some damage, but the top five hitters went 3-for-21 (.143) all together. Those are the guys who need to produce and right now some of them simply aren’t. The Yankees will continue to have trouble scoring runs until those guys get going.

You start hitting better and you start pitching better. (Elsa/Getty)

You start hitting better and you start pitching better. (Elsa/Getty)

CC Sa-bad-thia
The first four innings of this game were vintage Andy Pettitte. CC Sabathia wiggled around some trouble with an array of well-placed offspeed pitches and some solid defense behind him. Things came undone in the fifth inning — there’s that one bad inning again — when the Mariners put together a four-run rally thanks in part to a pair of infield singles. The first was overturned on replay and Roberts failed to cover first on a sac bunt attempt for the second. Just like that, Seattle was in business.

Sabathia struck out Stefen Romero for the first out and got Cano to ground out to first for the second out, so it looked like he was about to escape the jam, but then he caught too much of the plate with a two-strike fastball to Corey Hart. Hart doubled into the right-center field gap to score two runs and turn a one-run Yankees lead into a one-run Mariners lead. Justin Smoak poked a single to right one batter later to score Hart. Add it all up and you get four runs. Sabathia’s final line was those four runs on nine hits in five innings plus two batters. He struck out six. CC’s last two starts were really good. This one? Not so much.

(Presswire)

(Presswire)

Leftovers
Dellin Betances and Preston Claiborne combined to allow two insurance runs in the seventh inning. Betances put ‘em on and Claiborne let ‘em come home. Betances struck out four and did escape a first-and-third, no outs situation, but he needed 40 pitches to get five outs. Chris Leroux made his Yankees debut in garbage time, allowing two bloop singles in a scoreless inning. He’ll be the guy you forget on the Sporcle roster quiz at the end of the season. The four pitchers combined for 12 strikeouts and no walks.

Teixeira’s homer was his second in as many games. It was also his 81st homerun at the new Yankee Stadium, which is the ballpark record. He broke a tie with Cano with his solo homer in Sunday’s game. Here’s the full list, if you’re interested. Yangervis Solarte and Roberts both doubled for the team’s only other extra-base hits of the night.

And finally, Cano went 1-for-5 with an infield single, a stolen base, and two strikeouts in his return to the Bronx. He was indeed booed in his first at-bat, rather loudly by all 37 people in attendance. There was also a “you sold out!” chant. All that was missing was Randy Levine holding up TRADER sign in the owner’s box.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs some additional stats, and ESPN the updated standings.


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
Same two teams tomorrow night, assuming the weather holds up. The forecast is looking pretty grim right now and in fact the Mariners have reportedly been told to check in to see if the game is postponed before coming to the ballpark on Wednesday. If they do play, it’ll be David Phelps against rookie lefty Roenis Elias. RAB Tickets can get you in the door if you want to catch the game live.

Categories : Game Stories
Comments (59)

Triple-A Scranton (6-5 loss to Durham)

  • RF Ramon Flores: 2-4, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K — 12-for-29 (.414) with three doubles and one homer in his last seven games
  • SS Dean Anna: 1-5, 1 RBI, 2 K, 1 E (fielding)
  • LF Zoilo Almonte: 1-4, 1 2B, 1 K — no homers today, just a double
  • DH Ronnie Mustelier: 2-4, 1 R, 1 2B
  • C Austin Romine: 0-4, 1 RBI, 1 K — hitting only .108/.195/.135 in 11 games so far
  • RHP Shane Greene: 3.1 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, 6/1 GB/FB — 34 of 47 pitches were strikes (72%) … he was sitting 92-96 with a slider at 87 according to Josh Norris … a scout told Norris that Greene is simply too predictable, hitters can sit on his fastball
  • RHP Chase Whitley: 4 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 6/3 GB/FB – 49 of 78 pitches were strikes (63%)

Read More→

Categories : Down on the Farm
Comments (28)

After spending parts of nine seasons in pinstripes and more than 12 years in the organization, Robinson Cano returns to Yankee Stadium tonight as a visiting player. He bolted town for an extra three years and $65M over the winter, and hey, I don’t blame him. I would have taken it too. The Yankees confirmed they are not planning any kind of video tribute, which is pretty lame. Throw in the likely anti-climatic mix of boos and cheers and it’ll almost be like every other night in the Bronx.

More important than Cano’s return is the team’s play. The Yankees have won ten of their last 14 games and the Mariners pretty much stink, so this series is a good opportunity to fatten up the record a bit before heading out to the West Coast early next week. Plus, you know, they have to show Robbie what he’s missing. Here is the Mariners lineup and here is the Yankees lineup:

  1. CF Brett Gardner
  2. SS Derek Jeter
  3. RF Carlos Beltran
  4. C Brian McCann
  5. DH Alfonso Soriano
  6. 1B Mark Teixeira
  7. 3B Yangervis Solarte
  8. LF Ichiro Suzuki
  9. 2B Brian Roberts
    LHP CC Sabathia

It has been raining in New York for most of the afternoon but it looks as though there will be enough of a window to get the game in. Or at least part of the game. This one might not go the full nine innings. We’ll see. First pitch is scheduled for a little after 7pm ET and you can watch on YES locally and MLB Network nationally. Enjoy.

Ivan Nova Update: Nova (elbow) underwent Tommy John surgery as scheduled today, the Yankees announced. Everything went as expected.

Categories : Game Threads
Comments (409)
  • Jacoby Ellsbury day-to-day with sore left hand
    By

    Joe Girardi announced this afternoon that Jacoby Ellsbury is day-to-day with a sore left hand. The hand has been bothering him for a few days but tests came back clean. He was scratched from tonight’s lineup and Girardi hopes he will play tomorrow.

    Ellsbury broke a small bone in his left hand during Game Six of the World Series last year according to Peter Gammons, so this soreness is a concern only because of the recent fracture. Tests did not show structural damage though. Hopefully he’s back in the lineup tomorrow or the next day.
    · (18) ·

By Jason Klein, TiqIQ

The Seattle Mariners (10-14) make their way onto the Yankees schedule for this first time this season as they travel to New York to begin a three-game set with the first place Yankees (15-10).  When they do, it will mark the Bronx return of Robinson Cano, don’t ‘cha know?

Apparently, many fans don’t know…or care.

If the plunging ticket prices for the series are any indication, perhaps Yankees fans are indifferent when it comes to the All-Star second baseman who bolted for Seattle and a 10-year, $240 million contract this offseason.  Expected spotty weather and weeknight games with an average Mariners team could also be factors.

Yankees tickets for Game 1 at Yankee Stadium are trending downward on the secondary market -54% as first pitch approaches.  Fans looking to get in and see pinstriped ace, CC Sabathia (3-2, 4.78 ERA) take on Chris Young (0-0, 3.50 ERA) can do so for just $4, well below the $45 average ticket price.  With temperatures expected to be in the mid 40’s by first pitch, and a chance of rain, prices could continue to drop as gametime approaches

Despite an average price of $71 on the secondary market for Wednesday night’s game, fans can still get in the building for only $5.  Prices are trending down 27% for the middle game of the series when Seattle’s Roenis Elias (1-2, 3.54 ERA) opposes David Phelps (0-0, 3.86 ERA).  Phelps will be making his first start of the season, filling in for Michael Pineda who was suspended last week after rubbing pine tar on his neck during a game with the Boston Red Sox.

The biggest bargain of the series comes during the final game when Mariners ace, “King” Felix Hernandez (3-1, 2.40 ERA) matches up with Hiroki Kuroda (2-2, 5.28 ERA).  Fans can avoid an average price of $67 by scooping up a ticket to get in the door for just $3 on the secondary market.  With still two days to go, prices for Thursday’s series finale are down 21% in the past week.

Cano enters the series with a .301 batting average, 1 HR and 11 RBI.  When the former Yankee superstar makes his way out of the visitor’s dugout for the first time tonight, he’s expected to hear a mix of boos and cheers from those in attendance, many of whom got great deals on secondary market tickets prior to the game.

Categories : Guest Columns
Comments (9)
Don't worry Robbie, I'm sure the Yankees will find someone else to fill that extra spot in Monument Park. (Mike Ehrmann/Getty)

Don’t worry Robbie, I’m sure the Yankees will put that extra spot in Monument Park to good use. (Mike Ehrmann/Getty)

For the first time in his career, Robinson Cano will be a visiting player in Yankee Stadium. The Yankees’ best player from 2010-13 returns to New York this week after leaving the team for the greener pastures of Seattle and the Mariners over the winter. The Bombers made his a strong offer but the M’s blew it right out of the water. Such is life. This will be kinda weird.

What Have They Done Lately?
As expected, the Mariners are still terrible even with Cano. They did just take two of three from the Rangers but have won just four of their last 13 games overall. At 10-14 with a -8 run differential, the only thing keeping Seattle out of the AL West cellar is the Astros.

Offense
Both in terms of runs per game (3.85) and wRC+ (79), the Mariners have been one of the worst offensive teams in baseball this season. It’s kind of amazing Cano left the 2013 Yankees (85 wRC+) for a team that is somehow worse offensively. Anyway, Seattle’s only injured position player is 1B/OF/DH Logan Morrison (hamstring), who won’t be coming off the DL this series.

(Thearon W. Henderson/Getty)

(Thearon W. Henderson/Getty)

Just like last season, 3B Kyle Seager (123 wRC+) has been the Mariners best position player in the early going. Cano (100 wRC+) is off to a slow start, but come on, you know as well as I do that he’s going to rake before long. 1B/DH Corey Hart (117 wRC+) has been productive around miscellaneous nagging injuries and 1B Justin Smoak (101 wRC+) continues to do just enough to keep people interested. This season it was a huge opening series against the Angels. Eventually they’ll move on.

C Mike Zunino (91 wRC+) has a ton of power but his 21/1 K/BB is pretty funny. Others like OF Dustin Ackley (74 wRC+), SS Brad Miller (46 wRC+), OF Michael Saunders (66 wRC+), and former Yankees farmhand OF Abe Almonte (53 wRC+) have been predictably awful. Almonte was the guy the Yankees traded for Shawn Kelley. OF Stefan Romero (64 wRC+), OF Cole Gillespie (-15 wRC+), UTIL Willie Bloomquist (30 wRC+), and backup C John Buck (54 wRC+) fill out the bench.

Pitching Matchups

Tuesday: LHP CC Sabathia (vs. SEA) vs. RHP Chris Young (vs. NYY) (Pitcher GIFs)
When Randy Wolf made the Mariners out of Spring Training but opted out of his contract because the team tried to re-negotiate the terms (true story), the club picked up the 35-year-old Young. The 6-foot-10 right-hander has a 3.50 ERA (5.25 FIP) in 18 innings across three starts and one relief appearance this year, walking (5.50 BB/9 and 14.3 BB%) more batters than he’s struck out (5.00 K/9 and 13.0 K%). He also continues to be one the most extreme fly ball pitchers in baseball (25.0% grounders). That’s been true his entire career. His reverse split — righties has a .341 wOBA, lefties a .307 wOBA — is a sample size issue and not consistent with the rest of his career. Young is a pure two-pitch pitcher these days, throwing a mid-80s fastball about 75% of the time and filling in the gaps with upper-70s sliders. He survives because of his funky delivery, which hides the ball very well.

(Marc Serota/Getty)

(Marc Serota/Getty)

Wednesday: RHP David Phelps (vs. SEA) vs. LHP Roenis Elias (No vs. NYY) (Pitcher GIFs)
Elias, 25, defected from Cuba a few years ago and made the rotation in Spring Training (despite never pitching above Double-A) thanks to the Hisashi Iwakuma and Taijuan Walker injuries. He has a 3.54 ERA (4.12 FIP) in 28 innings across five starts, pairing a strong ground ball rate (50.6%) with mediocre at best strikeout (6.75 K/9 and 18.1 K%) and walk (4.50 BB/9 and 12.1 BB%) rates. Righties (.332 wOBA) have hit him harder than lefties (.299 wOBA) in his brief MLB career. Elias uses a low-90s fastball to set up his mid-80s changeup and upper-70s curveball, both of which are quality offerings. Since no one on the Yankees has ever faced him before, Elias has the element of surprise working in his favor this week.

Thursday: RHP Hiroki Kuroda (vs. SEA) vs. RHP Felix Hernandez (vs. NYY) (Pitcher GIFs)
You didn’t think the Yankees would get through a series against Seattle and not face Felix, did you? You should know better by now. The King is as good as ever this year, with a 2.40 ERA (2.41 FIP) in six starts and 41.1 innings. His peripherals are, as the kids say, stupid good: 10.23 K/9 (28.7 K%), 1.52 BB/9 (4.3 BB%), and 47.7% grounders. That’ll work just fine. He also has a tiny platoon split, so left or right, it doesn’t matter. Felix, 28, probably has the nastiest stuff in the game, starting with a low-90s fastball that runs back in on righties. His upper-80s changeup is unhittable, his mid-80s slider is unhittable, and his low-80s curveball is unhittable. It’s all unhittable. The guy is a video game. Felix’s career numbers against the Yankees aren’t as ridiculous as you might expect but they’re still excellent. In an age in which Clayton Kershaw and Jose Fernandez are all the pitching rage, Hernandez is every bit as good as those guys and he’s been doing it a lot longer.

Farquhar. (Thomas B. Shea/Getty)

Farquhar. (Thomas B. Shea/Getty)

Bullpen Status
Like the Yankees, the Mariners were off on Monday, so new manager Lloyd McClendon’s bullpen is pretty fresh. RHP Fernando Rodney (2.72 FIP) is the closer and remains a high-wire act. Former Yankees farmhand RHP Danny Farquhar (2.75 FIP) and RHP Tom Wilhelmsen (5.38 FIP) have been his primary setup men. Farquhar is one of the guys the Bombers traded to Seattle for Ichiro Suzuki a few years ago.

McClendon has three lefties in his bullpen: LHP Joe Beimel (3.18 FIP), LHP Charlie Furbush (4.46 FIP), and LHP Lucas Luetge (9.51 FIP). RHP Dominic Leone (3.58 FIP) and RHP Yoervis Medina (5.47 FIP) fill out the rest of the eight-man relief crew. The schedule has allowed them to use a four-man rotation the last turn or two, so they’ve been carrying the extra reliever in the meantime. That’ll change next weekend. For the status of the Yankees bullpen, check out our Bullpen Workload page. For the latest and greatest on the Mariners, check out USS Mariner and Lookout Landing.

Categories : Series Preview
Comments (70)
  • Cotillo: Yankee have not shown interest in Scott Baker
    By

    Via Chris Cotillo: The Yankees have not yet shown any interest in Scott Baker. The right-hander has a 2.81 ERA (4.76 FIP) with 26 strikeouts and ten walks in five starts and 32 Triple-A innings with the Rangers. He can opt-out of his minor league contract if he is not added to the big league roster by May 1st.

    Baker, 32, has thrown 15 big league innings since 2011 due to a series of elbow problems. He was awful in Spring Training — 12 runs with a 1/7 K/BB (!) in 12 innings — and failed to make the Mariners’ roster despite all their pitching problems. The Yankees could use a true long man with David Phelps assuming a middle relief role and Ivan Nova’s injury forcing Vidal Nuno into the rotation, but it’s been a long time since Baker was effective. I don’t see much of a reason to be interested with Al Aceves already in house.
    · (18) ·

The Yankees have had three off-days so far this year and each one has a) followed a win, and b) come when the bullpen really needed a rest. That second part isn’t much of a coincidence — Joe Girardi knows he can use his key relievers a bit more heavily with the scheduled off-day coming up. Anyway, the Yankees kick off a three-game series against the Mariners tonight, and here are some scattered thoughts leading up to the opener.

1. Obviously the big story of the week is Robinson Cano‘s return to the Bronx. It’s going to be weird seeing him in another uniform even though I’ve watched more than a few Mariners games already. I guess I mean it’ll be weird to see him in another uniform in Yankee Stadium. I really hope he gets a big standing ovation prior to his first at-bat — step out of the box, tip his cap, the whole nine — but after that, he’s just another non-Yankee. Cano was the club’s best player the last four years and a pretty big part of the team before that, so some level of respect and appreciation is in order. He is arguably the best second baseman in franchise history, after all. I’ll be pretty bummed out if Robbie gets booed tonight. Show some love, people.

2. Anyway, since we’re talking about middle infielders, Brendan Ryan is due back relatively soon. Probably within a week to ten days. I’m curious to see how he will be used because Derek Jeter has not DHed this year. At all. Literally zero games at the position. No one really cared if Dean Anna sat on the bench for four or five days at a time because it was Dean Anna. He was just happy to be in the big leagues. Ryan is making a decent salary ($2M) and has shown he can be an asset with his glove, but how often will he play? Will Jeter start to see more time at DH? And, if he does, what does that mean for the outfield rotation? I think the Yankees should just keep doing what they’ve been doing these first few weeks, and if Ryan is unhappy with sitting on the bench so much, then work out a trade I guess. I’m sure some team out there will take a good glove shortstop (Tigers? Mets?) off their hands.

3. I feel like there has been more small sample run differential analysis* so far this year. It means nothing in April. It doesn’t mean much more at the All-Star break. The Yankees have a -8 run differential despite being five games over .500 because they’ve been involved in an inordinate number of blowouts. Just within the last two weeks they’ve lost games by the score of 11-5, 16-1, and 13-1. Their two blowout wins during those two weeks were 10-2 and 14-5, so that right there works out to a -16 run differential in just those five games. Those are anomaly games and it just so happens a few were bunched together. I believe the team’s record is a far better indication of how they’ve played than their run differential right now. The Yankees have not played like a sub-.500 team at all.

* I don’t even think you can call looking at run differential and pointing out it doesn’t line up with the win-loss record as analysis.

(Elsa/Getty)

(Elsa/Getty)

4. Speaking of those blowouts, the bullpen has allowed 42 runs (34 earned) in 75.2 innings so far this year. Eighteen of those 42 runs (14 of 34 earned) were allowed in 7.2 innings by guys who simply don’t figure to be on the roster very much this year: Bruce Billings, Matt Daley, Cesar Cabral, Shane Greene, and, of course, reliever Dean Anna. That is 42% of the bullpen’s runs allowed in 10% of the innings by guys who are unlikely to be much of a factor this summer. Obviously those runs happened and we can’t strike them from the record, though I thought it was interesting to see just much damage the extra arms have done already. The team’s core relievers (David Robertson, Shawn Kelley, Adam Warren, Matt Thornton, Dellin Betances) have been outstanding. Like a combined 1.50 ERA (~2.27 FIP) with a 30.1% strikeout rate in 48 innings outstanding.

5. Robertson has handled the ninth inning pretty well, hasn’t he? Kelley before him too for that matter. I understand that replacing Mariano Rivera is a daunting task, but so far the Yankees have handled it well. Robertson has had to wiggle out of some jams already but that’s how the other half has lived all these years. We’ve enjoyed countless stress-free 1-2-3 innings from Rivera over the years while other teams were biting their nails because their closer issued a leadoff walk or a one-out double in a one-run game. Not every club has a Craig Kimbrel or a Kenley Jansen. Kelley did an excellent job filling in while Robertson was on the DL, but Robertson is clearly the guy going forward. He proved everything he needed to prove as a setup man these last few seasons and now it’s his time to shine. So far, he’s done just that.

6. I was at Saturday’s game with Ben and he noticed that the Yankees have already cleared a space for another retired number in Monument Park. You can kinda see it in this photo, all the way on the right of the retired numbers. Now, obviously Jeter’s number will be retired during his massive retirement ceremony at the end of the season a la Rivera last year, right? Right. The Yankees have also talked about retiring Joe Torre’s number in the near future, perhaps as soon as this season. I think it was Hal Steinbrenner (or maybe Brian Cashman) who mentioned over the winter that more number retirements are on the horizon as well, which could mean Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte, and Bernie Williams. Maybe Paul O’Neill too, since apparently no one else is worthy of his number. So I guess my question is who is that open spot in Monument Park being saved for? Jeter at the end of the season? Torre at midseason? Someone else entirely? Suspense!

Categories : Musings
Comments (149)

In Episode 2 of the River Avenue Blues Podcast I’m joined by Jay Gordon. We run down the weekend series, which included some great baseball. Then it’s onto the Mariners series – and there’s a lot to say about them.

To add additional insight, we talk to Zach Sanders, writer for FanGraphs and noted Mariners fan. We touch on topics such as:

  • First impressions of Robinson Cano
  • Failures of the off-season plan
  • How a team known for pitching has been so bad
  • Things that will go better as the year goes on

Podcast run time 56:22

We’re still awaiting approval from iTunes, but we do have this fancy player that lets you play the podcast in your browser or download it.

Update: Instead of making things too complicated, we’re just going to use the old iTunes feed, which you can find here. The new episodes should populate soon.

Again, audio feedback is appreciated. Jay will have a better mic for the next episode hopefully.

Categories : Podcast
Comments (6)
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